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"Over the river and through the woods..."

Snuggling under a warm quilt, I drifted off to sleep listening to the hushed voices of my parents and grandparents. They had quite a bit of catching up to do as after my parents had their first three children, they relocated from Perry County, Kentucky to Southern Indiana. They went on to have three more kids; I am the youngest girl of the bunch. We loaded up in our old, but reliable, station wagon twice a year to make the trip to Mamaw and Papaw Combs' house. They lived in Happy Ky which is a hop, skip, and a jump away from Hazard.

When we visited, our aunts and uncles would soon join us with their children. What a rush of excitement we felt when we were all together again! During the summer, we filled our pockets with treasures that we found as we made our way up the holler. I brought so much gold home with me from Happy only for my mother later to let me know that it was called fools gold. Regardless of that, it was precious to me. We had a blast roller skating around the antiquated furnace in our grandparents huge basement. Gymnastics in mamaw and papaw's yard was a great deal of fun even though I could never perform the splits as my cousin Robin did. I can envision my father cutting fresh watermelon into strips; I can envision him running out the back door with a rifle when we called for him because we had seen a snake coming down the holler.

There were times when Daddy had a difficult time driving up to mamaw and papaw's house when it was icy and the snow had blanketed the county. Fortunately, we always made it safely. Christmastime in Kentucky brings back memories of sparkling lights, beautifully wrapped presents under the tree, and the food. Oh, the food! Savory turkey and ham, homemade mashed potatoes, canned green beans from the garden, baked yams, and homemade yeast rolls were staples. Desserts such as stack cake and homemade banana pudding with toasted meringue were a treat for the taste buds. I remember waking up to the smell of fresh biscuits, gravy, bacon, eggs, and coffee. At times I would lay in bed eavesdropping as the grown-ups discussed faith, children, and education. After getting out of bed and having breakfast, the women would put the leftovers away and tidied up the dishes in mamaw's kitchen as they chatted.

I'll be sharing many more memories of my family in Eastern Kentucky with you and look forward to Xlibris publishing my upcoming book, "Appalachia: Through the Eyes of its People"

Mamaw and Papaw Combs

Taylor and Ada Combs

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